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Norcal Women Building a Champion

By Granger Huntress, USTA.com

The drive from San Francisco to Indian Wells and the 2009 USTA League Tennis National Championships may not have been a long one for the women’s 5.0 team from Northern California, but the it’s a journey that took several years to finish.

“This team is five years in the making,” said Captain Kelly Lynch. “We have made it to Sectionals every year, but something always gets in the way.”

The road to Nationals for the team, which includes Cristina Baldyga, Elana Gold, Leslie Rose, April Jourdan, Alisa Yee and Erin Kamemoto, began in college where three of the teammates met. Lynch, Rose and Yee all played together for the University of California at Davis.

Several years later, they began putting together a team at the San Francisco Tennis Club where they were all members. Over the years they have added players working towards this day.

“Someone always got pregnant or bumped up,” added Lynch. “This was the first year we actually all had the same rating and were able to play together.”

In a strange twist for the 5.0 division, none of the players on the team are teaching pros. Instead there are a couple of moms, lawyers, a nurse practitioner, a school psychologist and an investment specialist.

“We are just having fun and playing well,” said Lynch. “This is all our second passion (after our careers).”

And playing well, they are. Heading into Saturday’s late matches, the women are 3-0 and are looking like a virtual lock to advance to the semifinals. One possibility, should they reach the finals, would be to face an old nemesis, the Northern California Wild Card team who is also 3-0 heading into the afternoon.

“We have lost to them a couple of times,” said Lynch. “But we finally beat them this year at Sectionals. They really want to play us again.”

When things start going your way, it always seems to be infectious. For six of the ladies, this trip is a warm-up for the 10.0 Mixed Doubles Nationals being held in November in Las Vegas. Lynch, Gold, Yee, Baldyga, Jourdan and Kamemoto will all represent Northern California in that event.

Like several of the teams, the ladies are renting a house near the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. The owners of the house are huge USC fans and have given the team use of their USC emblazoned golf cart. Being from Northern California, the ladies are all University of California at Berkeley fans. With USC playing Cal this evening, this should be interesting.

“Go Bears,” added. Yee and Lynch before scooting away to the courts.

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Find a 2009 National Championship:

Apr. 9-11, 2010
Senior Mixed Invitational
Orlando, FL

Apr. 23-25, 2010
6.0 & 8.0 Super Senior
Surprise , AZ

Apr. 30 - May 2, 2010
7.0 & 9.0 Super Senior
Surprise , AZ

Oct. 2-4, 2009
5.0 Adult | 4.0 Adult

Oct. 9-11, 2009
2.5 Adult | 3.0 Adult

Oct. 16-18, 2009
3.5 Adult | 4.0 Senior

Oct. 23-25, 2009
4.5 Senior | 3.5 Senior

Oct. 30 - Nov. 1, 2009
4.5 Adult | 3.0 Senior

Nov. 20-22, 2009
2.5, 6.0 & 8.0 Mixed

7.0, 9.0 & 10.0 Mixed

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